Steering group - round-up of discussion

The final steering group meeting of 2013 was held on 10 December in London. You can see the agenda here.

Much of the meeting was given over to reflecting on the first year of the group and looking toward what shape the steering group and network should be to best achieve plans over the coming year.

Reflecting on the first year of the group chair Carl Haggerty, who is also Digital Communications Manager at Devon County Council, recognised the individual contribution members were making and the speed of progress during the first twelve months since forming.

He said: “LocalGov Digital has made great progress during its first year and the expertise of digital practitioners in the sector is being recognised, such as through our inclusion  in networks like the Digital Alliance.

“The next year will bring more challenges but it is important to seize the momentum, amplify the practical outputs the group is delivering and continue changing the way local government makes use of digital.”

The future of the steering group

A decision was made to keep the steering group of roughly the same size as it is currently (see who is on the group here) with a renewed agreement from group members to play an active part in a relevant work stream and supporting networking opportunities.

Following on from this the group re-elected the executive. Carl Whistlecraft stood down from his role as vice-chair to concentrate on work on the Rewiring Local Democracy strand.

Carl Haggerty was re-elected as chair, and Phil Rumens re-elected as vice chair.

Alongside this a new work stream was created, which will initially be led by Sarah Lay. The Communications and Community Management strand will incorporate responsibility for communications from the group as well as working on wider opportunity to map the digital practitioner network and build both online and offline communities. Offline activity such as the collaboration with Local DirectGov on Really Useful Days will now fall under this work stream.

The major change to the shape of the group is to now expand the network into Scotland. The group acknowledged the wealth of knowledge and innovative digital work being done in Scotland and look forward to making connections with Scottish practitioners.

Work stream updates

Content, Design and Development

Update from Phil Rumens, Jason Williams, Marc Snaith, Sarah Lay and Simon Gray

The work to promote the Content Standard is still going well with support being given from content management system suppliers and other groups to promote to their clients and members as good practice.

Specific terms of reference for this work stream were also presented to, and accepted by, the group. Agreement was also made that this strand would include content design and user experience / usability / interaction design work alongside the technical design and development.

Simon Gray presented an update to the group on the usability tool introduced at the last meeting. Development on this has been fast, collaborative and iterative and a working alpha prototype is now available to steering group members and their teams.

It was agreed the beta version would be made publicly available in the new year.

More about this work stream here.

Rewiring Local Democracy – influencing local leaders and elected members

Update from Carl Whistlecraft and Dave Mckenna.

Alongside the steering group meeting this work stream was launching its first output – Local Democracy Bytes – an online community for digital democracy.

Activity was running to discover which local leaders, elected members and councils were using digital channels for democratic information and participation. This will feed into further activity with the community. See and join in on #LDBytes.

Beyond LDBytes work was progressing to arrange academic research into digital democracy and the stream would be seeking to contribute to and influence wider discussions from central government on digital democracy and e-participation.

More from this work stream here.

Technology and infrastructure

Update from Martin Howitt.

The first findings are coming out of this work stream although busy schedules in the work stream members main roles have meant progress has slowed slightly.

Findings include a discrepancy in ambition for broadband infrastructure with cities looking to reach gigabit while other areas aiming lower for megabit.

The work stream is now looking at the need for a Technical Standard for local government and a peer-reviewed supplier list. The group will look at how this could fit alongside the usability tool being developed in the Content, Design and Development work stream.

More on this work stream here.

National voice for digital practitioners and building networks

Updates across the group.

Updates for these two work streams were included in the wider discussions about the future of the group.

Networking continues at regional level, at national level and around the work stream topics.

More on the national voice strand here and the building networks stream here.

Future meetings

It was agreed the steering group would continue to meet four times a year but meetings would now be:

  • hosted by steering group members at their authority, rather than held in London
  • be themed around a work stream and aim to include a practical element to progress collaborative work faster
  • seek to be more inclusive of the wider network of practitioners through making use of streaming, or similar.